An Interview with Johnny Hachem, a rising star in the Middle East

Carla Solo, February 28, 2018

Johnny Hachem is an award-winning Lebanese composer and pianist, and a rising star in the Middle East. He has performed in Europe and Asia, and will soon be touring South America. He resides in Ukraine and Lebanon with his Ukrainian wife Tania, 3 year old son called Jason, and another baby on the way. Johnny is reaching rapid success in the Middle East, with newspapers, TV channels, and Radio Stations continuously requesting his interviews, and there has been an increase in the international demand for him to perform live abroad. A gifted musician with a Master’s degree in Composition, he is a down-to-Earth church-going family man, who doesn’t let fame get to his head. I interviewed Johnny to ask him about his career and success.

Good morning Johnny. It is good to speak to you. I would like to ask you some questions about your career.

How long have you been playing and composing music?

Good morning Carla. I would say, for 30 years now. During the war, there was no electricity, and there were many dangers. Since that time, these things didn’t stop me from playing music, and enjoying it. I couldn’t run away from the bombings in Lebanon, so I found my peace in music. At the age of 6 or 7, I started playing by myself, and improvising, and then eventually I entered the Conservatory, and I started studying Music.

That sounds rather tragic in a way, but it gives a hope for peace. Which war are you referring to?

The Lebanese Civil War.

Can you remember the first concert you ever performed in?

It wasn’t a full concert, it was like a solo performance at a church. I was like maybe 10 or 11 years old, and I performed in front of hundreds of people. I started out this way.

How many countries have you performed in by now?

14.

Which of those countries that you have travelled to, was your favourite to perform in?

Switzerland, without a doubt.

Why Switzerland?

Because I met many amazing people there. They were well educated, generous, and they appreciated music. The country is extremely beautiful, and there is a harmony between the beauty and the music. There were many great countries that I visited, but Switzerland was particularly special for me, because of its elegance. I like Swiss food too.

When did you realise you were becoming more popular in Lebanon and the Middle East?

After I won the international award in France in 2009. I returned to Lebanon and so many people were congratulating me, and many TV reporters were giving me interviews.

Which was your favourite venue to perform in?

One concert I presented was at the Zhytomyr Philharmonic Hall on the 25th August 2015 in Ukraine. It was an unforgettable experience. It was a huge full hall, with 3 floors and balconies.

Can you recall a favourite experience with a fan or a crowd?

Once in Switzerland, I was giving a concert and the people applauded for a long time, and some of them seemed really touched. I saw one lady crying, as my music had really moved her emotionally. Another experience I recall, was a letter I had received from a Syrian teenager, who was living in Canada. He wrote to me to express how much he felt touched by one of my compositions. He was a refugee, who had a painful experience, and he told me that my music helped him to heal. I feel very blessed that my music can reach out to people in this way.

What is your preferred style of music to compose?

Neo-romantic.

Who is your favourite composer?

Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and John Williams are among my favourite composers.

Which is your favourite musical piece that you composed, and why?

The Battle of Siddim. It’s being played worldwide right now, especially in Lebanon, Poland, and Switzerland. I composed the parts of 90 musical instruments for it. It was performed by the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Lublin Philharmonic Orchestra in Poland.

Other than music, what are your interests and hobbies?

Ping pong, Swimming, and travelling.

Do you believe musicians have a responsibility to change the world for the better?

Yes, musicians can make the word a better place. They should use their fame to help them to achieve it.

What would be your advice to someone who wanted to pursue a career in music?

Talent and hard work is not enough. You should also have vision.

Johnny, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thank you so much for your time. We wish you more success in the future.

You’re most welcome Carla. I highly appreciate it.

Johnny Hachem will soon be touring Belarus and Panama. I feel moved by his ability to reach success, despite all the challenges he faced, growing up in the Lebanese Civil War. It is increasingly difficult for Middle Eastern musicians to break through in Europe. Johnny Hachem rose above all challenges. I attended Johnny Hachem’s concert in the United Kingdom in 2014, I was amazed by his talent and his extraordinary skill with the piano. I hope Johnny Hachem will be an inspiration to many other artists from the Middle East. Click here to watch The Fourth Watch, composed by Johnny Hachem.

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